December 20, 2014

Brussels: Day 2 (Pt 1)

Our second day in Brussels dawned bright and sunny grey and rainy. We were due to go on a three-hour walking tour of the city but, with the rain strumming a slow and steady tune against our window, it was only the promise of the best breakfast in Brussels that eventually managed to peel us from our bed.

Peck47 has something of a cult status on the Brussels food scene. Tucked down a side street not far from the Grand-Place,  it is achingly cool (seriously, I felt like such an imposter!) and the perfect spot to sip coffee and people watch.

While they serve food all day, it's the breakfast menu that gets foodies all hot under the collar and it's not hard to see why. Perfectly poached eggs served in a million different ways, homemade granola and fresh, crumbly pastries are just some of what's on offer. We plumped for the eggs; with sausage, hollandaise and relish for me and Benedict style for him. 

Just look at that yolk...

Too early for our tour and not keen to spend too long out in the rain, Kev surprised me by proclaiming he had done his own research and knew the spot for Belgian waffles, just a few minutes away. I followed him to Mokafe in the Galerie Royales Saint-Hubert.

The Galerie Royales is a shopping arcade that dates from 1846 and is absolutely stunning. All of the shops inside are decorated to reflect the old world. regal elegance of the building and the effect is truly breathtaking. Mokafe is no exception with its dark wood panelling, leather upholstered booths and cakes on stands; I half expected some of the cast of the Great Gatsby to walk in the door!

Kev's source wasn't wrong. These waffles were the real deal Belgian waffle; rectangular in shape, crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, even a non-waffle lover like me couldn't resist a taste. The traditional way to eat a Belgian waffle is piping hot with a sprinkling of powdered sugar but, when they offer you a pot of molten Belgian chocolate to drizzle over top, who could resist?

Have you heard of Godiva? Of course you have. As one of the most renowned Belgian chocolatiers, there are shops on almost every corner. However, it was the one on the corner of the Grand-Place that sucked me in. You see, I tried to buy a chocolate covered strawberry in Godiva on 5th Avenue a few years ago. I say tried because, well, they wanted to charge me $15 for one piece of dipped fruit. One. You can guess where I told them to go.

Then I come to Belgium and, find myself in the rain, plastered against window of Godiva, watching a man sensually coat big, fat, perfect strawberries in glistening melted Belgian chocolate. Presumably Kev saw the drool escaping my mouth and, recalling the New York debacle, nipped in the door a bought me a whole cone of Godiva chocolate-dipped strawberries. God bless that man. And yes, they were absolutely otherworldly. Just don't buy them in New York.

Have you ever seen me look happier? I don't think so!

Feeling full [and slightly sick tbh] we joined up with our tour group in the Grand-Place. We've done a number of the Sandeman's free walking tours around Europe and they are a really great way to get an introduction to the history of a place as well as ensure that you see the key landmarks. Generally your guide will be a freelancer, usually a highly educated history or politics student who has lived in the city for years. Our guide, Adrien, spent a huge amount of time on the fascinating backstory of the main buildings on the Grand-Place;

Before taking us over to the Grand Palace and the Cathedral of St Michael and St Gudula, stopping, of course, at Brussel's most famous yet, as Adrien put it, most disappointing landmark; Manneken Pis!

Day 2 was a long day so, rather than boring you to tears, I'll share what we got up to on the evening of our second day tomorrow. Hint: markets and an all-you-can-eat meat feast! 

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